Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A munch too far

There’s sex happening here at Chauffour and there shouldn’t be.
It appears that overnight, one of our ewes has morphed into a Thompson’s Gazelle as she effortlessly hurdles 6 foot high fences in a quest to satisfy her carnal desires.
Yes, it’s that time of year again when the boys meet the girls.
Meanwhile, in a tiny field at the other end of the holding, 3 rams nonchalantly chew at their cuds, watching her brazen antics through the only flimsy barrier that now separates them and getting ideas above their station. Fuelled with rising testosterone, they occasionally test their manhood by head-butting each other in an ovine jousting contest that would shock even the most hardened of Olympians. Blood flows – the one with the most dents is surely the winner.
Normally I would let them have their way, but this year I am trying to postpone next years lambing until February so that Wendy and I can spend a little time in Scotland for the winter. However, something tells me it’s a battle I am destined to lose. Nature at full strength has undeniable power and I feel like whats-his-name with a finger in the dyke – so to speak.
It’s like an episode of Big Brother!
Not that I have ever watched BB.
Although, for a house that rarely turns on a TV from April til October, this summer has seen ours on constantly as we followed every discipline of the Olympics. I will admit I was pleasantly surprised at London’s handling of the event and especially the opening ceremony. Wow, that really was something – apart from them wheeling out Sir Paul again. What amazed me was the opening part of the show, depicting medieval rural Britain and how in the blink of an eye, the whole thing transposed into the industrial revolution. That in itself was stunning but what I want to know is: What did they do with the sheep?
One minute there were 20 of them grazing happily on patch of ground tended by 2 shepherds, the next they were gone!
I never saw them leave – did you?
Because it was pitch dark, that’s why.
Many times I have tried moving sheep in the dark, and it isn’t easy.
Couple that with music so loud it would make your ears bleed and surely the things would have gone ballistic and run in a hundred directions when the lights went out – especially as we definitely saw people remove all the hurdles?
It would take more than a few actors and a couple of tame sheepdogs to hold that lot together, surely. Mystifying – to say the least. Whoever had sheep under that sort of control is invited here anytime…!
But the games were brilliant, weren’t they, especially winning all those medals? And beating the Aussies. They don’t like it up em – those Aussies.
The whole thing is so emotional, though. What is it about sport than can make grown men like John Inverdale and Sir Steve Redgrave – and me – cry like nursery children when we win or lose a gold by the skin of our teeth?
Well, I have a theory… all comes down to the National Anthem. Somewhere inside each and every Brit is a trigger which is programmed to be set off every time we hear those opening bars - just like Pavlov and his dog which would salivate every time it heard the dinner-bell.
Gold medal = National Anthem = blub like a 3 year old.
Clever bloke, that Pavlov, I’m telling you – doing all that research AND inventing the meringue cake…
As far as the Olympics go, I love the first week, watching all those sports we didn’t know we were any good at, like clay-trap shooting, my bother’s favoured sport, in which we won a gold. Also, there was that pretty judo fighter who was quite agile – I’m not sure many men would have lasted 5 minutes on the mat with her….? Cycling, sailing, kayaking, archery and gymnastics all take extreme levels of skill and balance in so many muscles which is what makes them so interesting.
But by the second week, I find it all a bit of an anti-climax. I know runners need to train hard, just like everyone else, but isn’t running a bit boring in comparison to pitching your strengths and skills against the elements? Especially those marathons – that go on for hours and hours – hogging the BBC channel. At least in the London marathon we can get to giggle at idiots in panda suits swooning from heat-exhaustion after 2 miles or Paula Radcliff stopping in for a pee behind the Queen’s gatepost. At one time we even had chance to smile every time Brendan Foster managed to get the name Haile-Gabrie-Selassie into every sentence as though he practiced it in front of a mirror every morning. But this year, it all seemed rather mundane on the track and field compared to the ‘lesser’ sports.
Not that I am capable of doing any of them. A bit of fencing, with netting and barbed-wire, that’s about it for me.
And what about those 7 African athletes who just used the Games as an excuse to get into the country? Are things really that bad in Cameroon that they wanted to come to UK – when many of us are leaving? I bet they soon turn themselves in when they have to queue for 12 hours for a bus – in the pouring rain – and then pay a hundred quid for a cup of tea. Very shortly they’ll be pining for the coastal resort of Kribi back home where, according to travel guides, the average annual temperature is 30 degrees, it has wonderful and deserted palm-fringed beaches and you can dine on fresh seafood in picturesque restaurants for a few cents. Sounds a helluva lot nice than London to me! Still, the grass is always greener – and all that.
Back to the subject of sheep, we lost a strong lamb this morning – one of the ones we had reared on a bottle which made it even more distressing. While checking the fences, I noted a lot of bright red berries, growing in clusters 6 inches high under the hedge.
Lords and Ladies, as they are known; proper name Anum Maculatum. Other names include Devils and Angels, Cows and Bulls, Cuckoo-Pint, Adam and Eve, Bobbins, Naked Boys, Starch-Root and Wake Robin. I’m not sure who thinks up all these colourful names but whatever you like to refer to them as, they are evidently deadly poisonous. Tiddling lambs will eat anything, but that was maybe a munch too far, poor chap.
I knew we should have got the thing on the bbq last week – damn-it Janet.
I would like to close this piece with an immortal track by the band Pink Floyd – because despite a few rumours, the Olympics didn’t!
When I was growing up listening to monumental albums like ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ and clambering for tickets to their concerts, my parents were very busy telling me that all this long-haired modern clap-trap would never stand the test of time. Classical and Opera would still be around in centuries time where Roger Waters and Co would be long-forgotten by the end of the seventies.
Who’s music was it that ended the opening ceremony at 2012 – yes, them with a number called ECLIPSE.
And I am a little annoyed that they didn’t close the whole event as promised, perhaps with a few lines from the track entitled TIME, which is proffers sound advice to lethargic teenagers everywhere:
…and then one day you find,
10 years have got behind you,
No one told you when to run….
you missed the starting gun…
Topical - if not poetic.

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